Source Artificial Organ and Transplantation Division, Department of Surgery, Graduate School of Medicine, University of Tokyo, Tokyo, Japan
BACKGROUND: Recurrence following liver transplantation for hepatitis C virus (HCV), which is universal, affects long-term outcomes. Treatment with interferon (IFN) and ribavirin (RBV), the only widely available options at this time, have been faced with low tolerability and overall unsatisfactory results in deceased donor liver transplantation (DDLT). However, its place after living donor liver transplantation (LDLT) remains a matter of debate. Since most LDLT cases are performed in a planned manner at a lower Model for End-stage Liver Disease (MELD) score compared to DDLT, we have aggressively applied preemptive INF/RBV in our series.
PATIENTS AND METHODS: We studied 122 adult recipients who underwent LDLT for HCV-related end-stage liver disease. The preemptive IFN/RBV protocol initiated treatment promptly after improvement in the patient's general condition with a low-dose IFN alpha2b and RBV (400 mg/d) followed by a gradual increase in the INFalpha2b dosage. Finally, we applied pegylated IFN (1.5 ug/kg/wk) and RBV (800 mg/d). The treatment was continued for 12 months after serum HCV-RNA became negative, which was defined as the end-of-treatment response (ETR). The response was considered to be a sustained viral response (SVR) if there were negative serologic results without antiviral treatment for another 6 months. Splenectomy was performed at the time of LDLT to improve tolerability to INF/RBV. The median age of the patients was 55 yrs (range = 23-66), with male dominance (87 males and 35 females). Median MELD score was 14 (range = 6-48). The series included 72 patients with hepatocellular carcinomas, and six with HIV coinfections. In 98 cases, HCV genotype was 1b.
RESULTS: Overall survival at 5 years was 79%. Cumulative response rates under the protocol were ETR 56% and SVR 44% at 5 years.
CONCLUSIONS: Preemptive IFN/RBV therapy after LDLT for HCV is feasible with acceptable outcomes.